Disney Celebrates Disc Release of ‘Frozen II’ With FIDM Window at L.A. Disney Store

To celebrate the Feb. 25 disc release of Frozen II, Disney is collaborating with Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising alumni to create a window at the Westfield Century City Disney Store featuring five streetwear looks and design elements inspired by the film.

FIDM alums Paul Hernandez and Tomy Huang will create two female and two male garments incorporating the elemental spirits of nature featured in the film — air, fire, water and earth — while Nick Verreos (FIDM co-chair fashion design and spokesperson and TV host/personality)  and his design partner and fellow FIDM co-chair David Paul will create an Elsa-inspired gown.

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Each day the display is featured Feb. 25-March 2, ten randomly selected purchasers of the Frozen II Blu-ray will go home with a copy of the film signed by voices cast stars Kristen Bell (voice of Anna) or Josh Gad (voice of Olaf).

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Available Digitally March 17, on Disc March 31

The sci-fi/fantasy blockbuster Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be available through digital retailers March 17, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 31 from Lucasfilm and Disney.

The film is “Episode IX” in the nine-film Skywalker saga and the concluding chapter of the sequel trilogy that began with 2015’s The Force Awakens and continued in 2017’s The Last Jedi.

The story finds Rey (Daisy Ridley) leading a mission to uncover ancient secrets to help the remnants of the resistance fight the resurrected Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who has promised great power to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to rule the galaxy.

The cast also includes John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Naomi Ackie as Jannah, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Richard E. Grant as General Pryde, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher as General Leia.

The appearance of Fisher, who died in 2016, was achieved using unused footage from the earlier films.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, The Rise of Skywalker earned more than $513 million at the domestic box office and just over $1 billion worldwide.

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Bonus material includes the feature-length making-of documentary “The Skywalker Legacy.” Additional extras include the featurettes “Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase,” a look at one of the film’s key action scenes; “Aliens in the Desert,” a look at creating the desert world of Pasaana; “D-O: Key to the Past,” which focuses on the film’s new droid character; “Warwick & Son,” about actor Warwick Davis returning to play an Ewok; and “Cast of Creatures,” in which the team the created the record 584 creatures and droids for the film reveal the puppetry, makeup, prosthetics and digital magic that bring them to life.

Exclusive to the film’s digital version will be “The Maestro’s Finale,” a featurette about composer John Williams, who reflects on his body of work for the “Star Wars” saga.

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The “Star Wars” saga was created by George Lucas, who directed the original film that was released in 1977 and has since come to be known as Episode IV: A New Hope. The original trilogy consisted of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Lucas also directed the prequel trilogy, beginning in 1999 with Episode I: The Phantom Menace and continuing with 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.

A nine-film 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray “Saga Collection” boxed set will be available exclusively through Best Buy. Individual 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc releases also are slated for each film.

Iger: Disney Sticking to 90-Day Theatrical Window

Late last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company was considering steps to expedite access to select studio box office titles into retail channels — a move that could shorten the venerable 90-day theatrical window for new-release movies.

No sooner had he said that, Iger reiterated his ongoing support affording exhibitors such as AMC Theatres and Regal exclusive access to movies upon release.

“We have a studio that is doing extremely well and a [release window] formula that is serving us really well in terms of its bottom line,” he said last November.

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Indeed, any mention of shortening Disney’s massive theatrical gravy train for the sake of earlier access on DVD/Blu-ray Disc and digital, seemed shortsighted.

Disney ended 2019 with seven movies each generating more than $1 billion at the global box office. The studio ended the previous fiscal year with nearly $10 billion in ticket sales.

Regardless, the seeds of doubt had been sowed, prompting one analyst on the Feb. 4 Q1 fiscal call to ask Iger if he would “recommit to the theatrical window.”

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“The theatrical window is working for this company, and we have no plans to adjust it for our business,” Iger responded.

With upstart Disney+ streaming service getting every original studio release, domestic exhibitors saw a near 7% decline in tickets sold in 2019 compared to 2018.

Iger suggested the analyst’s question was a reflection how other studios are positioning their films and distribution business.

“We’re not the only movie company,” he said. “I suspect that [questions about the window are] not due to us or either a lack of conviction on our part or any suspicion that we might not be telling the truth. It’s working for us, and we have no plans in the foreseeable future to change it.”

 

MMA Fighter Conor McGregor Helps ESPN+ Generate Record 1 Million PPV Streams

Pay-per-view, boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) have been partners practically since the beginning of television. But streaming video is still a new frontier.

During Disney’s quarterly financial results, it was disclosed that Irish MMA superstar Conor McGregor helped upstart subscription streaming service ESPN+ generate more than 1 million PPV streams for UFC 246 — a record for a live streaming event that cost $70 to watch over the Internet.

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McGregor defeated Donald Cerrone Jan. 18 in the headline event — in 40 seconds.

Disney said the fight and McGregor contributed to ESPN+ adding 1 million subscribers since the end of the company’s fiscal quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) to 7.6 million subs from 6.6. million. Indeed, 500,000 subs signed up just for the fight.

ESPN+, which launched in April 2018, had just 1.4 million subs in January 2019. The service, which costs $4.99 monthly, is also offered as a bundle with Disney+ and Hulu for $9.99 monthly.

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Home Video Lost in Disney Studio’s Q1 Fiscal Glow

With first-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) revenue and operating income skyrocketing more than 100%, respectively, there was no mention of the Walt Disney Studio’s four titles finishing among the top 10 best-selling combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units in 2019 — including top-seller Avengers: Endgame.

Studio revenue for the quarter increased from $1.8 billion to $3.8 billion, and segment operating income increased from $309 million to $948 million. Higher operating income was due to increases in theatrical and TV/SVOD distribution results at legacy operations, partially offset by a loss from the consolidation of the 20th Century Fox Film businesses.

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The increase in theatrical distribution results was due to the performance of Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the current quarter compared with Ralph Breaks the Internet in the prior-year quarter. The previous-year quarter also included Mary Poppins Returns and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the current quarter included Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

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Growth in TV/SVOD distribution results was due to sales of content to Disney+, partially offset by a decrease in pay-television sales to third parties. Operating results at the Fox businesses reflected income from TV/SVOD distribution, which was more than offset by a loss from theatrical distribution and general and administrative costs. TFCF theatrical releases in the current quarter included Spies in Disguise and Ford v Ferrari, as well as international distribution of Paramount’s Terminator: Dark Fate.

‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Conjures Up First Place on Disc Sales Charts

Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Jan. 18.

The fantasy sequel, a follow-up to the 2014 “Sleeping Beauty” adaptation Maleficent, earned $113.8 million at the domestic box office.

The previous week’s top seller, Warner’s Joker, slid to No. 2 in its second week.

Another newcomer, Paramount’s sci-fi actioner Gemini Man, debuted at No. 3. The film earned $48.6 million from U.S. theaters.

Lionsgate’s Rambo: Last Blood in its fifth week dropped to No. 4 on the overall sales chart and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart.

Sony Pictures’ Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was No. 5 on the overall sales chart and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart in its sixth week.

Other new releases in the top 20 include Funimation’s Dragon Ball Super: Part 10 at No. 9 on the overall sales chart and No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart, and Lionsgate’s Jexi at No. 14 on the overall chart and No. 17 on the Blu-ray chart.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 75% of first-week Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Sales, 60% for Gemini Man and 44% for Jexi. The 4K Ultra HD version comprised 10% of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil‘s total units sales, compared with 16% for Gemini Man. The 4K Gemini Man disc is the first UHD offered in the high 60 frames-per-second rate as opposed to the standard 24fps, and is being touted for its demonstration quality for UHD systems.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Jan. 19, Gemini Man took the top spot, with Joker slipping to No. 2. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil debuted as the No. 3 rental.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was No. 4, followed by Jexi and No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 1-18-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 1-19-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 1-18-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 1-18-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 1-18-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 1-20-20

 

‘Frozen II’ Coming Home Digitally Feb. 11, on Disc Feb. 25

Disney’s animated hit Frozen II will come out on digital Feb. 11, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Feb. 25.

The follow-up to 2013’s Oscar-winning Best Animated Feature, Frozen II is 2019’s No. 4 movie domestically, according to Box Office Mojo, grossing $466.5 million in North American theaters. Worldwide Frozen II was the No. 3 earner, taking in $1.4 billion.

In Frozen II, the answer to why Elsa was born with magical powers is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she sets out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. The film features the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad.

Bonus features include deleted scenes, deleted songs, Easter eggs, outtakes and a sing-along version with lyrics to the film’s songs. Extras take viewers behind-the-scenes to hear making-of stories from the cast and crew. Digital buyers will receive two exclusive extras: an interview with songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who won an Oscar for Best Original Song (“Let It Go,” 2014) and wrote seven original songs for Frozen II, and a deleted song titled “Unmeltable Me.”

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Additionally, a digital bundle, which includes both Frozen and Frozen II, will be made available for purchase in 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD.

New toys inspired by the film’s finale featuring Queen Anna and Elsa the Snow Queen will hit retail shelves Feb. 22 timed to the in-home release.

Disney Dropping ‘Fox’ From Content Branding

The Walt Disney Company will drop the “Fox” name from some of the assets it acquired in its $71.3 billion buyout of 21st Century Fox studio from the Murdoch family last March, according to reports.

As such, the 20th Century Fox film studio will now be known as 20th Century Studios, while the studio’s indie arm, Fox Searchlight Pictures, is now just Searchlight Pictures. Logos for the newly named subsidiaries have been similarly updated without the “Fox” name.

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The name change has apparently not yet extended to Disney-owned production units 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, though a potential name change could be coming on that front as well, according to Variety.

Also unknown is how the rebranding will affect the name of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Inquiries to the studio have not yet been answered.

The primary reason for the re-branding is to distinguish the new Disney-owned properties from assets such as the Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel that were not included with the sale and are still controlled by the Murdoch family under the Fox Corp. banner.

Disney has already started phasing out “Fox” from company email addresses and is using the Fox-less branding for upcoming projects such as the films Downhill and Call of the Wild.

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Interestingly, the history of the 20th Century Fox studio began with the merger of two independent studios in 1935: Twentieth Century Pictures, founded in 1933, and Fox Film Corporation, founded in 1915. Rupert Murdoch bought 20th Century-Fox in the 1980s and dropped the hyphen from the name. Fox Searchlight was created in 1994.

Iconic 20th Century Fox studio elements such as the spotlight logo and the musical fanfare date back to the Twentieth Century Pictures days, and will be retained by Disney.

Merchandising: ‘Maleficent’ Is Mistress of Exclusives

Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil arrived at retail Jan. 14 with a couple of retailer exclusives.

Target offered the fantasy sequel based on “Sleeping Beauty” as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a filmmaker gallery book for $34.99.

Target’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ 4K UHD Blu-ray Gallery booklet

Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Steelbook

Best Buy also had a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook for Disney’s 2016 version of The Jungle Book, which was just released in the UHD format.

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Walmart had an exclusive tied to Paramount’s Gemini Man, offering a bonus Vudu digital movie of xXx: Return of Xander Cage with the Gemini Man Blu-ray ($22.96) or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray ($27.96).

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‘FX on Hulu’ Bowing March 2

When Disney last year announced it would transition FX Networks programming to Hulu, including edgier original content, the strategy was considered a shrewd competitive move designed to elevate the SVOD platform’s status against perennial frontrunner Netflix.

Speaking Jan. 9 at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions shed new light on the move, including when 1,600 episodes of FX programming would begin arriving on Hulu: March 2.

Cate Blanchett

Original programs, which will debut over the course of several weeks, include miniseries “Devs,” “Mrs. America” with Cate Blanchett playing anti-feminist Phyliss Schlafly, “A Teacher” (Kate Mara) and “The Old Man,” starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges.

“We see this as a transformative opportunity for the FX brand,” Landgraf said.

While most existing FX (and FXX) programming will appear on Hulu, notable exception includes “American Crime Story,” which remains on Netflix due to a prior licensing agreement.”

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“Nearly the entire FX brand will be available in one place,” Landgraf said.

The executive said FX had peaked with about 85 million pay-TV households and considers the collaboration with Hulu’s 30 million households a positive. Working together with Hulu CEO Randy Freer, “FX on Hulu” will debut original shows the day after their TV broadcast.

New comedies on “FX on Hulu,” include “Breeders,” bowing March 2, and “Dave,” debuting March 4.

“Both our brands together will make Hulu a stronger platform than either could alone,” Landgraf said. “I think [the combination is] going to make the FX brand even more valuable.”